Sunday, December 31, 2006

Lawrence Lessig talk

One of my favorite blogger Lawrence Lessig on Free, and Difference beween culture and code.

Saturday, December 30, 2006


Just a quick post here. Currently in Perth now, visiting Tammy's relatives. They're really nice folks, espeically her Gong Gong and Po Po. We'd hang out here for another week or so before heading out for a 2-week vacation on the east coast (Sydney, Melbourne, Gold Coast, Great Barrier Reef). The only thing to complain is the heat here! 37 degree celcius the other day!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Street-singing before getting busted!

As mentioned in an earlier post, this is how I was singing "American Pie" half-way in Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco when this cop came to have a chat with me :( He's a pretty nice guy though.

Perpetual Blues Machine

One of my favorite Keb Mo number.

Before you accuse me & Hey Hey

Eric Clapton Medley.

Monday, December 18, 2006

A New Chapter (Part 1)

This is a blog post that I've dreaded and at the same time looked forward to write for some time now. Basically, my time in America is finally coming to an end. In a few days time I'd be back in good o' Singapore, sweating through my shirts and digesting a plethora of Singaporean "makan" again. But before I go, I think it's a good time now to look back and reflect on the past 4.5 years of my life in America; for closure, for nostalgic reasons, I want to write down my thoughts now, before my memories start failing me and the sense of being here, in the "land of the free" eludes me when I return to my "comfort zone".

I would be lying if I said I wasn't nervous when I stepped on the Detroit-bound plane 4 years ago. I was leaving a lot of things behind that I deeply cherish; I was leaving my parents, my 2 brothers, my friends and the girl of my life. In some ways I also felt that I was leaving behind my passion for music, for just a few months before departure I opted to forgo a shot to make it in the music industry and decided to stick with my overseas scholarship. I was definitely leaving a lot behind, but I longed for a "bigger" experience, a chance to "feel" a way of life that's vastly different from the one I was used to. At hindsight, many of my perceptions about America (blame it on Hollywood!) were distorted and reflected little of the truth, but it was a very different experience nevertheless, and I feel really blessed that I was given the opportunity to do it.

A note I wrote upon my first arrival in Ann Arbor. This piece of paper would eventually be pasted in front of my desk for the next 4.5 years.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Final days of street-singing (in US)

As my departure date draw closer, me and Tammy begin our frantic attempt to try out or do whatever we haven't done yet here in the Bay Area. For Tammy, it was about visiting more museums, checking out restaurants in the City or go on another Forever 21 spree. For me, it was street-singing. I'd write another long post to sum up my experience here in US in a day or 2, but for now, let's just say that I'd really miss street-singing in Berkeley (or SF).

The weather's been real shitty the past week, so I was really praying for the rain to stop at least for a day or 2. In the end, the rain did stop yesterday, so I ended up singing for almost 5 hours straight yesterday at the Berkeley BART station. It was really cold and at times I thought it was really going to rain. But somehow the weather held through and I actually got $70+ at the end of the day (my best day so far)!

It was a really satisfying time. Gotta play all my old favorites, plus a couple of Damien Rice and Keb Mo that I just picked up last week. Marcel, Chen Lu, Shong all dropped by to watch for a while. One of my favorite lecturer here at UC Berkeley, Bernt Wahl, also saw me and decided to join in for a few songs. A couple of passers-by also came up to me for a chat. 2 Jazz musicians asked me for a jamming session; a 40+ year-old Chinese lady danced to the Blues song "You can love yourself", a few gals came up to me to request for "Jamming", "One Love" etc (all Bob Marley numbers) but when I asked them if they know "No Woman No Cry" they gave me a blank face! I also saw Kathy, the first person I gotta know when I first started street-singing a year ago. It was a great feeling, singing my heart out in the center of Berkeley, once the enclave of the 60's youth movement (and hence Dylan and all the good stuff). The favorite moment came when I started singing "Dark side of the road". As a matter of fact I seldom do my own compositions while street-singing, but this guy came up to me and asked for an original, so I did the one I knew best. To my surprise I was really into the song, so much so that I closed my eyes throughout the song. When I'm finally done with the song, I opened my eyes to see this crowd of people who have gathered around me and gave me a round of applause. To find a pair of appreciative ears is just so much more rewarding than getting a few bucks, especially when it's for my own song.

In any case, I was all fired up and ready to go for another day of street-singing today. The weather couldn't have been better and I knew this is probably gonna be my last chance to do this in the States before I ship my equipment back to Singapore. Anyway, I always have this dream of street-singing at Fisherman's Wharf. Me and Tammy saw this street-singer belting out at this spot in Pier 39 when we were here 3 years ago and that image kinda stuck to my head. So I was really hoping to do just that before I leave. Unfortunately it was not to be.

We first went to Embarcadero, where we were supposed to catch a street-car to Fisherman's Wharf. Now they always have a farmer's market at the Ferry Building on weekend and there was a pretty good crowd. I got abit tempted and started looking for a spot to play. Unfortunately most of the "audible space" were already occupied by other street-performers, but I still ended up finding this really sweet spot. There ain't alot of passers-by traffic but the acoustic is soooo good (as I'm essentially facing a the formidable Ferry Building). I started with my usual "throat-warmer" Street of London. The sound echoing back to me was so magical; I told myself I'm gonna have a great time even if there's no one listening. Well, turns out the security guards were listening and they came to talk to me after that first song and that was all I had at the Ferry building.

Feeling slightly dejected, I decided to try my luck at Fisherman's Wharf, thinking "maybe I was really meant to sing there today". Found a decent spot and started setting my gear again. The sound pales in comparison to Ferry Building but there's surely alot more passers-by. At some point I started singing a Chinese song "我願意" and before I knew it, I was surrounded by a group of very curious tourists from China, who first filled up my money box with their dollar notes, before posing shots beside me and looking over my lyrics paper. Then there's this dude with his huge lizard just chilling on the bench across me the whole time while I was playing. I think he enjoyed my music, though he's probably a street performer in his own right, given that he and his cold-blooded companion attracts a bigger crowd than me for the most part. Anyway, just when I thought I was settling in and getting into the mood, a cop turned up and that was the end of it.

After this second time of "rejection", I was feeling kinda discouraged after finding most of the other "public parts" of the Wharf also occupied by other street performers. So that was the end of my street-singing career (at least for a long while). While I can't say that it ended on a high note, I was really glad that Tammy was with me the whole time when I felt dejected by the cops. She helped me with carrying all my "parang parang" and took the pictures below.

Looking back, I realized that for the whole day, I only truly enjoyed that "Street of London" song that I sang in front of the Ferry Building. And what was I thinking at that instant? Instead of getting immersed in that moment, I was busy thinking about what a great time I'd had for the rest of the afternoon and what other songs I should sing. Well, so I guess I've "missed" that magical moment. There's this saying "the gift is the presence". That really reminds me to live my life to the max, soaking in each day at a time. After all, I might very well miss out the best part if I keep planning for the next big thing....a rude awakening indeed.

Setting up behind the Ferry Building.

Singing for...sea gulls?

Finding "my" spot in Fisherman's Wharf, before running into the law...sian~

Dude with his lizard. He was sitting across me the whole time while I was playing. He seemed to really enjoy the music, though he and his unique companion certainly draws a bigger crowd than me for the most part.

Fisherman's Wharf...I hope to be back, and when I do I hope to do it right. A full 4-hour street-singing marathon is what I have in mind. Hopeful....

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Brilliant goal!

Superb goal by Matthew Taylor!

Do you know who I am?

another funny ad!

Best beer ad ever!

hahahhaha! nice!

Time Travel (by thought)

Relativity to the extreme~ pretty neat clip on how our brain do a slight backward projection of time!

Blower's Daughter

One more Damien Rice cover :) Tammy's getting really annoyed with me practising his songs the whole day :p


Another Damien Rice cover. Enjoy~

Win a million, with style!

Millionaire With Style - video powered by Metacafe
Wow...this guy's awesome! Deserves the $1m man!

Must Watch! Super amazing bird!

Crazy Birds Island :p - video powered by Metacafe
This is just sooo amazing! I hope that these species may never go extinct!

Vision of Future (AT&T 1993 ad)

If AT&T has been that visionary, they wouldn't be regarded so as the 100-pound slow-moving giant now. Pretty amazing ad thou, considering it was made in 1993.

Words of wisdom (from a homeless guy)

A pretty amazing clip of a homeless guy talking 38-min non-stop of some semi-philosophical stuff...some parts are really funny, while there are some moments that I think this guy really has got alot in his head....judge for yourself~

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Master Presentation

I'm putting up the slides and video of my master presentation on "Localized Growth of Multi-Walled Carbon Nanotubes". This also means the end of my graduate life~

Slides part 1

Slides part 2

The presentation video. It's great to look at your own presentation footage. There's indeed alot to improve in terms of my public speaking skills...

Friday, December 08, 2006

The Professor

A Damien Rice cover. Love this song!

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Fungus eats man's face

Warning: this video is pretty graphic. I recommend watching my earlier post on "Attack of the fungi" for some context. In any case, I really admire the wife's strength and love for her husband.

Swiss Fondue!

Marcel, a great guy from Switzerland, recently joined our lab and is now currently working on the same CNT project with me and Takeshi. Well, what do you do when you have a Swiss friend? Ask him to make you some Fondue! And that's exactly what we've done a few weeks ago~ we ended the night playing this really interesting kind of Swiss poker game...the whole deck only has 36 cards, the number only starts from 6 to 10, and the kings/jacks/queens all take on swiss names that now eludes me...too bad we didn't take pictures of those cards...

Tammy (as always) striking a pose for the camera...


more cheese..

fondue in-the-making.

(on the left) Marcel, the master himself...

mindy: how do you eat this???
takeshi: ask Ryoman!
Ryoman: aaaabiiiaamuuu!! (translates to "put some of those yummy stuff on my plate now!!" in baby language)

yummy!!! trust me, this is really good stuff!

As explained by the master himself...

the whole gang...getting pretty crowded here (in our tiny apartment)

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Intel & Symantec CEO talk

One positive thing about studying in a school like Berkeley is that big-shot CEOs will just occasionally drop by. Just a few weeks back I went to one with Adobe CEO, Bruce Chizen, where he talked about the new Apollo project, FLEX and the acquisition of Macromedia. Last week, I went to another one with Marcel; this time hosted by the PBS program called "CEO Exchange", which have Intel CEO, Paul Otellini, and Symantec CEO, John Thomson, moderated by CNN's Jeff Greenfield.

There were a few interesting things that I learned:

1. Since this is a televised program, we were made to "laugh" and "appear engaged" so that they can use the footage for later on. One of the cameraman even asked me if I could remove my cap so it'd look better on TV. Then there were these "pre-assigned" questions which selected "audience members" got to ask. They allowed a few other questions from the floor towards the end, but all these "staged attempts" make me very interested to find out about how all these would look eventually in the real program when it aired.

2. Jeff Greenfield was a great moderator, and not surprisingly so given his credential. Obviously, the ability to keep the audience engaged and the interviewee focused, always asking the questions which the audience themselves wanna ask; these are skills that are obviously the fruit of his many years of experience working in the press. And I wonder if the new wave of blog-based citizen-journalism will be able to provide the depth and breadth of learning experience to produce more reporters of similar caliber.

3. I bet John Thomson, being an African American, is always being asked questions related to his ethnicity. No exception today. My impression of him is that he's a very confident and articulate, and I really like the face that he makes an effort to "unwind" once in a while (hunting, fishing in Alaska) and he doesn't carry any mobile devices with him. When asked "wouldn't you worry about the company", he replied "my job as a leader is to build a team that is able to keep the company going strong. If I can't even leave my job for a few hours, i know i haven't done my job as the leader of the company"

4. Paul Otellini came across as a soft-spoken person initially, but he might be a hard boss to work with. When asked "when was the last time you get pissed at work?", he answered "this morning". He went on to say that he was initially put off by a suggestion from a subordinate, but he eventually email back saying that he now thinks there's something to that suggestion. He also bought on stage a couple of devices to showcase what next-generation Intel chips can do. I'm particularly interested in their efforts in the Intel Health department, as well as their "Viiv" initiative which aims to make the connection between TV and the PC much more easy than it is today.

All in all, it was an interesting talk, and at some point inspiring. I've always leaned more towards the gungho lets-do-it-ourselves entrepreneurial kind of approach, so it's kinda refreshing to see that you can get a pretty rewarding experience as well doing this "corporate" thing.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Cingular's terms of service

You really can't do much with a Terms of Service contract like this!

"Prohibited and Permissible Uses: Data Service sessions may be conducted only for the following purposes: (i) Internet browsing; (ii) email; and (iii) corporate intranet access (including access to corporate email, customer relationship management, sales force automation, and field service automation applications). Prohibited uses include, but are not limited to, using Services: (i) with server devices or with host computer applications, including, without limitation, Web camera posts or broadcasts, continuous jpeg file transfers, automatic data feeds, telemetry applications, automated functions or any other ?machine-to-machine applications; (ii) as substitute or backup for private lines or dedicated data connections; (iii) for Voice over IP; (iv) in conjunction with WWAN or other applications or devices which aggregate usage from multiple sources prior to transmission; (V) Using the Services for any activity that adversely affects the ability of other people or systems to use either the Services or other parties' Internet-based resources including, but not limited to excessive consumption of network or system resources (whether intentional or unintentional) and "denial of service" (DoS) attacks against another network host or individual user; or (vi) Interference with or disruption of other network users, network services or network equipment. except for CONTENT formatted in accordance with cingular’s CONTENT standards, Unlimited plans cannot be used for uploading, downloading or streaming of video content (e.g. movies, TV), music or games. Furthermore, unlimited plans (except for DataConnect and Blackberry Tethered) cannot be used for any applications that tether the device (through use of, including without limitation, connection kits, other phone/PDA-to-computer accessories, Bluetooth® or any other wireless technology) to laptops, PCs, or other equipment for any purpose. Service is not intended to provide full-time connections, and the Service may be discontinued after a significant period of inactivity or after sessions of excessive usage. Cingular reserves the right to (i) limit throughput or amount of data transferred, deny Service and/or terminate Service, without notice, to anyone it believes is using the Service in any manner prohibited above or whose usage adversely impacts its network or service levels and (ii) protect its network from harm, which may impact legitimate data flows. You may not send solicitations to Cingular subscribers without their consent. You may not use the Services other than as intended by Cingular and applicable law. Plans are for individual, non-commercial use only and are not for resale. Security: CINGULAR DOES NOT GUARANTEE SECURITY. Data encryption is available with some, but not all, Services sold by Cingular. If you use your device to access company email or information, it is your responsibility to ensure your use complies with your company’s internal IT and security procedures. "

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Friday, December 01, 2006

Great Interview with Baidu CEO

Can't embed here, but here's the link.

" Confronted with charges of copyright violations from many major record companies, Baidu, the biggest Chinese search engine in the world, is ... all » facing great challenges in terms of business strategies and practices. In this exclusive interview, Robin Li, the founder and CEO of Baidu, tells us his ambition and strategies to pull Baidu out of current difficulties."

Google Video (now with Caption)

Don't think this is speech-to-text yet..but still pretty cool. Great talk too, "All Marketers are liars" by Seth Godin speaking at Google.